St Augustine of Hippo: Is Your Will Twisted Away from the Highest Substance?

Feast of St James the Great Martyr of Persia

Augustine_Square_2.jpgI TURNED my gaze on other things. I saw that to you they owe their existence, and that in you all things are finite, not in the sense that the space they occupy is bounded but in the sense that you hold all things in your hand by your truth. So all things are real insofar as they have being, and the term ‘falsehood’ applies only when something is thought to have being which does not. And I saw that each thing is harmonious not only with its place but with its time, and that you alone are eternal and did not first begin to work after innumerable periods of time. For all periods of time both past and future neither pass away nor come except because you bring that about, and you yourself permanently abide.

I learned by experience that it is no cause for surprise when bread which is pleasant to a healthy palate is misery to an unhealthy one; and to sick eyes light which is desirable to the healthy is hateful. The wicked are displeased by your justice, even more by vipers and the worm which you created good, being well fitted for the lower parts of creation. To these lower parts the wicked themselves are well fitted for the higher parts insofar as they become more like you. I inquired what wickedness is; and I did not find a substance but a perversity of will twisted away from the highest substance, you O God, towards inferior things, rejecting its own inner life (Eccl. 10.10) and swelling with external matter.

—St Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

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